He is remembered above all for his 1922 play ‘Anarkali’, based on the life of ‘Anarkali’, which staged hundreds of times and was tailored for feature films in India and Pakistan, including the Indian film Mughal-e-Azam (1960).
Early life of Imtiaz AH Taj
Imtiaz Ali Taj was born in Lahore on October 13, 1900. He was graduated in 1922 and joined the family publishing house. Imtiaz AH Taj, the eminent Urdu theatre personality also edited their periodicals Tehzib-e-niswan on women's education and Phul, for children. His most famous play, Anarkali in 1923 was considered a modern classic. This is also a prescribed text in Indian and Pakistani universities. Its strength lies in its gripping storyline about emperor Akbar and his son's forbidden love, its idiomatic dialogue, convincing characterization, and skilful handling of psychological and social conflicts. In it, Hashr saw promise of a new era in Urdu drama. When Imtiaz started writing, he adopted the name "Taj".
Works of Imtiaz AH Taj
He was a co-founder of the fictitious journal ‘Kehkashan’. In adding to his many translations of Shakespeare's plays into Urdu, counting ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ as ‘Sawan Rain Ka Sapna’, he also wrote a number of plays himself, the most distinguished being ‘Anarkali’ and ‘Chacha Chakan’, which continue to be performed today.
Anarkali was different from the Urdu theatre and also popularized by Parsi companies. It was realistic in style and its prose. This was free from the artificial embellishments that characterized the dominant tradition of Urdu playwriting. However, Anarkali fails the test of stage worthiness. Although an ardent theatre enthusiast, Taj had little understanding of practical requirements. His play is too wordy and almost eight hours long. Because of this reason no regular group has produced it. However, it was made into a silent movie, The Loves of a Mughal Prince in 1928. In this movie Taj himself acted as Akbar.
An important contribution of Taj was the promotion of radio drama during his association with All India Radio and, later, Radio Pakistan. He also collected and published several volumes of early Urdu drama, with detailed notes and well-researched prefaces by him. Imtiaz AH Taj also translated Bernard Shaw and scripted the screenplay of Moti Gidwani's murder mystery ‘Zamindar’ in 1942. Imtiaz AH Taj, the well-known Urdu theatre personality wrote scores of books for children. Honored by the government of Pakistan with an award, he died tragically in a murderous attack by unidentified assailants in 1970. As the Director of 'Majlis', he republished many critical works of Urdu literature. After the creation of Pakistan; Syed lmtiaz Ali Taj conducted a daily feature 'Pakistan Hamara Hai' for Radio Pakistan. He died on 19th April, 1970.